Thursday, May 07, 2015

Google Keep is Really Turning Into Something Useful!

I'm always on the lookout for good note-taking or organizational apps, and I must say, I've been intrigued by the development of Google Keep. At first, I thought that there was little to recommend it - it was just a way of keeping lists or notes on my Google account. I thought that the color coding was pretty neat, but it lacked quite a bit in comparison to other note or organizational apps. I went ahead and began using it as a quick way of recording notes and keeping them handy. I really liked the speech to text angle on my tablet. It worked fairly well, and allowed me to take my notes hands-free while I was walking around.

Since that initial impression, Google has quietly added updates and features, getting it to the point now where it has become extremely useful for me. In no particular order, Google has added:

  • Reminders.
  • The ability to capture and add photos to notes.
  • The ability to export the notes in a variety of formats (on an Android device).
  • The ability to share notes and update them in real time.
  • The ability to add labels or keywords.
  • A nice search function which will let you search by color, label, whether there is a photo, whether it is a list, whether it was recorded voice, and whether it has been shared.
  • When you perform a search on a the web version, you can export discovered notes as a Google Drive document.
Those last few items are game changers for me. It is now possible to color code my notes for topic, project, or field. I can then add keywords, and when I search, limit a collection to those keywords. I could color code my library work as Orange, and then add keywords, like 'Apps', or 'Google' as I add notes. Once I perform a search for Orange notes labeled 'Apps', I can further limit by keyword or go ahead and select notes from the list and export them to a Google Doc, essentially creating an outline on one topic, waiting for editing and later publication.

As I said, this is a game changer for me - the ability to dictate, label, organize and publish from one app tied to my Google account is what I've been looking for for awhile.

Here are some screen grabs to give you an idea about Keep's capabilities:

Here, you can see Keep's search box, with options to search by color, list, voice transcription, photo, reminder, and sharing status. You can, of course, search by text also. Here, I have chosen to search by the color Orange.

I have limited the search further by choosing the label 'Newsletter'. I have then selected the five cards on display.

From the three dot drop down menu in the middle of the gray bar, I can now select 'Copy to Google Doc' to create a document from my notes.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

IFTTT's "Do Button" - Test Run

Today, IFTTT launched a few new features, including the "Do Button". The IFTTT app will also be re-branded as IF. The "Do Button" is a pretty nice app, and I hope that it has many applications which I will find useful. The first use for it that I'm trying out is to easily post to Blogger, so consider this a test post.

via Do Note

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Disappointment With Evernote

Don't let the title of this post fool you. I don't want to slam Evernote. I've been using Evernote regularly for a few years now, and I love how easy it is to capture, keep, and search for information with this unique tool. No, my goal here is to spur Evernote or its developers to solve a big problem with this information wrangling tool--retrieval.

I have years worth of information locked up in Evernote, and it's not easy to retrieve. Once I do a search for notes or keywords, I'm reduced to opening each entry, and cutting and pasting to repurpose the information I need. It shouldn't be that way. I should be able to capture and dump my information so that it can be repurposed for my creative endeavors. If I've created the equivalent of subject related index cards, I should be able to dump them into a document, divided into groups by keyword. I want it to be more useful than other products, or even my old index card system.

As I said, I don't really want to slam Evernote. It held a lot of promise because of the breadth of what it can capture, but I'll tell you one thing--if Evernote doesn't solve this problem, someone else will, and I will switch in a heartbeat--even if I can't carry my work over. The information I have isn't doing me much good because I can't use it quickly or efficiently. Losing the old information to the promise of a better service to wouldn't be so bad.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Replacing Google Reader

I was about to throw a fit at the news of Google Reader's impending demise, but then I saw this announcement from Feedly:

...which is good news.

I do think that Google is being short-sighted in this decision, though. I know that there has been declining use of Reader, and that many people depend on social sharing instead, but I really believe that most of the social discovery process is driven by a select few "super-sharers" who get their information from services like Google Reader. It's like getting rid of farms because most people get their food at grocery stores. 

My commitment to the Google/Android ecosystem has been, in part, because of the investment I have in Google Reader as the backbone of my research/continuing education/professional development process. I'm not as committed to that now.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

eLearning Articles of the Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

eLearning Articles of the Week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Missing Tool of the Week--Chromebook and Nexus 10

The holidays have somewhat interrupted my weekly tool overview, so I've decided to focus this week on a tool I was hoping to get over the holidays, plus one I have been promoting to my wife as she looks to replace her laptop soon. The irony is that both tools are unavailable, and have been for some time. I'm speaking of Google's Samsung Chromebook, and the Nexus 10.

Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi) - Google PlayMy wife uses her laptop mainly for internet searching and word processing, and she's looking for a way to automatically back up everything she writes, so she can access it from multiple locations. She uses many Google products, so there's no desire to move to Apple's eco-system. The Chromebook would be perfect for her, but the Samsung model got better reviews than the cheaper Acer model. It has been sold out for a while, though, with no indication that it will be available soon. It can't really be "For Everyone" if it's not available, right?

She is still thinking about her purchase. I, on the other hand, had already made up my mind to get the Nexus 10 tablet. I've been working with a number of tablet devices lately  including the iPad, the Kindle Fire, the Nook Color, and I've tried a few hands on demos with the Nexus 7. I really have a lot invested in Google's digital infrastructure, so I have no desire to start messing around with iTunes, and I really want to be able to have access to as many apps as possible, so The Nexus devices seem ideal to me. The Nexus 7 got great reviews, but I'd like to have access to a larger screen for displaying my photos, and there are a few presentations I'd like to use it with. I also want access to a camera on both sides of the device.

Nexus 10 (16GB) - Google PlayYou can see the problem with this, though. The device has been unavailable for some time. There isn't even a way to pre-order it, or to be notified when it's available! I'm not sure if it will be available when I'm ready to pull the trigger on the purchase, which will be soon.

So, I think that these would be cool tools, but I'm not sure if I'll ever know. The tablet and laptop markets are moving so quickly, these may be obsolete by the time they are in stock again, which is a shame.

Hmm....those Windows 8 devices are looking pretty cool. Sure, they're more expensive, but it looks like I won't be spending my money anytime soon. I'll have time to save up.